Directed by Med Hondo • 1970 • France, Mauritania
Starring Robert Liensol, Théo Légitimus, Gabriel Glissand
A furious howl of resistance against racist oppression, the debut from Mauritanian director Med Hondo is a bitterly funny, stylistically explosive attack on Western capitalism and the legacy of colonialism. Laced with deadly irony and righteous anger, SOLEIL Ô follows a starry-eyed immigrant (Robert Liensol) as he leaves West Africa and journeys to Paris in search of a job and cultural enrichment—but soon discovers a hostile society in which his very presence elicits fear and resentment. Drawing on the freewheeling stylistic experimentation of the French New Wave, Hondo deploys a dizzying array of narrative and stylistic techniques—animation, docudrama, dream sequences, musical numbers, folklore, slapstick comedy, agitprop—to create a revolutionary landmark of political cinema and a shattering vision of awakening black consciousness.
SOLEIL Ô was restored as part of the African Film Heritage Project, an initiative created by The Film Foundation’s World Cinema Project, the Pan-African Federation of Filmmakers (FEPACI), and UNESCO, in collaboration with the Cineteca di Bologna, to help locate, restore, and disseminate fifty African films with historic, artistic, and cultural significance. Restoration funding was provided by the George Lucas Family Foundation and The Film Foundation’s World Cinema Project.